Hormonal imbalance is a condition that can affect both men and women. Different factors are responsible for this and it can put several roadblocks in the realization of a healthy body and a healthy mind. In women, hormone levels can fluctuate during puberty, menopause or perimenopause. A man can also experience hormonal imbalance when they go through the ‘male menopause’ phase or when they experience age-related hormonal shift called andropause.
Hormones like estrogen, testosterone, insulin and adrenaline affect the proper functioning of our body. These hormones, secreted from different organs, work together to regulate the different processes in our body. Imbalance of even one hormone can cause a host of health issues. The most common treatments for hormonal imbalance include hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills and thyroid medications. Imbalance of different hormones can cause different side effects.
The most common hormones whose levels fluctuate are estrogen and progesterone in women. This happens primarily due to overuse of birth control pills, undergoing a lot of stress and also overuse of cosmetics. Testosterone imbalance in men leads to thinner, shorter hair or in some cases, hair loss. Apart from the above mentioned treatments, other remedies include over the counter supplements to balance hormones, dietary changes, taking on less stress, exercising more, sleeping more and even taking prescription medicines.
A woman can go for over the counter supplements to treat imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. Such supplements are generally available in the form of a cream or a pill and can be generally acquired without prescriptions. A healthy diet can go a long way in treating hormonal imbalance in both men and women. Having foods rich in zinc helps to manage the level of testosterone. People should include omega-3 fatty acids in their diet as they help in the production of healthy cell membranes. Healthy cell membranes ensure that the hormones reach the intended cells in the body. Estrogen levels can be maintained by taking in lots of fiber. Furthermore, excessive drinking of caffeine or alcohol can also cause hormonal imbalance.
Exercising helps to release such hormones in the blood stream that can offset the harmful effects that can occur due to the imbalance of female reproductive hormones. Another method of improving estrogen production is by reducing stress. Sleeping for 7-9 hours every day is essential to maintain the hormonal balance. Men benefit more from sleeping well as their body produces testosterone during the REM cycle of sleep.
Prescription medicines are generally recommended when other ways to restore hormonal balance have failed. Birth control pills can be sometimes recommended to women as they have powerful physical effects. Anti-depressants and medicines containing menopausal hormone can help to restore hormonal balance in women. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy helps to balance hormonal imbalance due to aging or irregular lifestyle habits.
A person suffering from hormonal balance will exhibit some symptoms like: insomnia, changes in appetite, fatigue, depression, anxiety, low libido, digestive issues, hair loss, hair thinning, weight gain or weight loss and infertility and irregular periods. A person is eligible for treatment if he/she suffers from some or most of these symptoms. A person may not always suffer from hormone deficiency but also from surplus of hormones. Salivary tests offer a good indication of the hormone levels in a person’s body. A person becomes eligible for treatment if such tests find any imbalance of hormones in his/her body.
A person who does not suffer from any of the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance is not eligible. Any person whose hormone levels do not show any discrepancy after he/she has undergone a blood test or a saliva test is not entitled for treatment.
Hormone replacement therapy can increase the risks of heart disease and stroke, cause blood clots to form, cause gallbladder problems and breast issues. It may also cause bloating, headache and hot flashes. Oral birth control pills can increase resistance to insulin and abnormal intolerance to glucose. This may put the person at risk of developing Type-2 diabetes.
A person taking medications to treat hormonal imbalance will have to make the corresponding changes in his/her lifestyle to achieve the best results. The treatment for hormonal imbalance is generally a long term process and there are no such post-treatment guidelines. However, sleeping well, exercising and having healthy foods can go a long way in alleviating hormonal imbalance in both men and women.
A person who has changed his diet and his lifestyle will generally require some time before he/she can understand the good effects. Hormonal changes do not take place suddenly and it will take time for the hormone levels to reach their normal levels even after taking medications. It takes a person about three months to feel the full effects of hormone replacement therapy. The recovery period, hence, will vary from person to person and also depend on the severity of the hormonal imbalance.
15 tablets of anti androgen or testosterone blockers costs around Rs 25 in India. A person may have to take one daily if there is an imbalance in his testosterone levels. Therefore, the monthly cost comes to around Rs 50 per month. One sheet of estrogen tablets cost around Rs 300. Other hormone replacement therapy medications generally cost around Rs 100 for a week’s dose. Birth control pills generally cost between Rs 100 – Rs 500. Antidepressants are available within a price range of Rs 18 – Rs 3000.
Stress is one of the primary causes why men/women suffer from hormonal dysfunction. Stress results in increase in the production of cortisol that causes the depletion of progesterone. Poor gut health can impede the production of sex hormones, adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones. Manifestations of poor gut health include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, reflux and gas. Furthermore, malfunctioning of the thyroid gland can also cause hormonal imbalance. Thus, even if a person has undergone treatment for hormonal imbalance, he/she can experience the same problem if he/she suffers from stress, gastric or thyroid problems.
Consuming foods rich in healthy fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados and salmon help to treat hormonal imbalance. Adaptogen herbs not only help a person to balance hormones but also protect him/her against various diseases. Ashwagandha is one such herb. Breathing exercises and acupuncture help a person to get relief from stress and thus help to restore hormonal balance.